She was kind, loving, tragic and bought me fancy stamps when I was a kid.
In 1982 or 83, when I was released from jail, I hitchhiked up to Barrie, Ontario (that’s in Canada) to spend the weekend with my aunt and uncle, and grandma, who was living with them because her husband was hospitalized with Alzheimer’s.
She didn’t know I’d been incarcerated, just that I went missing for a few months.
On Sunday morning, my uncle and I went to the local store to get some stuff (he’s somewhere in that pic and was a tough hockey player) and he got a phone call: “Mom’s taken a bunch of pills, get home.”
So we went.
We got her into the car and I will never forgive myself for not sitting beside her in the back seat. Instead I was a petulant youngster, pissed off and angry.
We got to the hospital and two nurses tried to coax her out of the car into a wheel chair.
I said she’s dying, picked her up and carried her in.
Twenty minutes later she was dead.
The suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have brought me back to that uncomfortable place and sunk me into a deep depression, that isn’t fair for my family, so I’m going to get professional help for the next week.
I’m grateful that I have access to skilled professionals at Damascus in Brisbane.
The chief medical examiner, Dr. Jan Gorniak, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that toxicology testing found marijuana in Cunningham’s system, but there were no other significant findings.
His body showed no other signs of trauma, according to authorities.
According to the autopsy report, Cunningham’s parents told police that he did have frequent mood swings but that he had never been officially diagnosed with depression or any other mental illness.
The scientist, 35, was a team leader in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. His career had been marked by accomplishments including co-authoring 28 publications, focusing on how health issues affect minorities. He also worked on numerous public health emergencies, including the Ebola outbreak and the Zika virus.
“Tim was always the golden boy,” a colleague at the CDC previously told PEOPLE.
In his position Cunningham prominently studied heath patterns related to race, gender and geography. For his work, the Atlanta Business Chronicle featured him last October as one of its “40-Under-40” rising stars in the region.
“He expressed a strong desire to improve the health of others,” journalist Tonya Layman, who interviewed Cunningham for his Chronicle profile, told PEOPLE. “I was really impressed with his intellect and his passion for the work he was doing.”